April 30, 2008
Re: FTA Complaint Number 08-0020
Dear [name withheld]:
This letter responds to your complaint against Access Services, Inc. (ASI) alleging discrimination on the basis of disability. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Office of Civil Rights is responsible for civil rights compliance and monitoring, which includes ensuring that providers of public transportation properly implement Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Department of Transportation's (DOT) implementing regulations at 49 CFR Parts 27, 37, and 38.
In the FTA complaint investigation process, we analyze allegations for possible ADA deficiencies by the transit provider. If FTA identifies what may be a violation, we first attempt to provide technical assistance to assist the public transit provider in complying with the ADA. If FTA cannot resolve apparent violations of the ADA or the DOT ADA regulations by voluntary means, formal enforcement proceedings may be initiated against the public transit provider which may result in the termination of Federal funds. FTA also may refer the matter to the U.S. Department of Justice for enforcement.
Each response is developed based on the specific facts and circumstances at issue. A determination resulting from a review of these facts is not intended to express an opinion as to the overall ADA compliance of that transit provider.
Specifically, your complaint of October 10, 2007, alleged that:
ASI denied your paratransit eligibility despite your claims that you need paratransit to reach inaccessible locations in your wheelchair that you have not traveled to before.
FTA investigated your allegation and sent an information request to ASI. We received a response that addressed and provided relevant information. Your allegation is addressed in detail below.
You state that “…there are times when I get off the bus [and] because of a lack of…accessible public rights [of] way [I] am not able to get to my destination due to the fact I use a wheelchair.”
The DOT ADA regulations at 49 CFR § 37.123(e)(3) define paratransit eligibility as ”any individual with a disability who has a specific impairment-related condition which prevents such individual from traveling to a boarding location or from a disembarking location on such system.”
ASI claims that they based their determination of your ineligibility on your interaction with the environment. ASI claims that your condition may make it more difficult for you to get to or from the bus, but does not prevent you from doing so. ASI evaluated each of the locations and destinations that you indicated and found that each had an alternative path of travel to access the bus.
Determinations of ADA paratransit eligibility must consider the ability of applicants to travel to any origins or destinations in the paratransit service area under all possible conditions. The simple fact that you only identified destinations in the system that were accessible to you is not a proper eligibility determination based on the most limiting factor. Conditional eligibility would therefore be appropriate in your situation. If you had not traveled to a location before and were not certain whether or not the location was accessible, you would then be conditionally eligible for paratransit service to this location unless and until ASI has determined that this location is accessible for you via fixed route service. You would not be eligible for paratransit trips when the origin and destination of your trip is accessible, such as those routes identified by you and inspected by ASI during your eligibility screening.
We will place ASI in follow-up status as to the issue of your paratransit eligibility. We have requested that they reevaluate you for paratransit eligibility based on your most limiting factor and report their findings to us within 30 days.
This concludes our processing of this matter and no further investigation will occur. If new information comes to your attention, please contact us. If you have any questions regarding our determination, please contact Stephanie Sharer, at (202) 366-0272 or at her e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention.
David W. Knight
ADA Team Leader
Office of Civil Rights
Shelly Verrinder, Executive Director, ASI
W. Joe King, Jr., Director, Contract Services, ASI
Leslie T. Rogers, FTA Region IX Administrator
Derrin Jourdan, FTA Region IX Civil Rights Officer